History of the SGO project

The Sports Governance Observer (SGO) is a tool for benchmarking governance in international sports organisations that has evolved through a number of projects.

The foundation for the tool was developed in 2012-2013 where Play the Game/Danish Institute for Sports Studies partnered with six European universities (Loughborough University, Utrecht University, KU Leuven, German Sport University Cologne, IDHEAP Lausanne and Ljubljana University)  and the European Journalism Centre to research the state of governance in international sports organisations.

The partners worked together in the project  ‘Action for Good Governance in International Sports Organisations’ (AGGIS) (link to AGGIS page) supported by a grant from the European Commission under the framework of the EU Preparatory Actions in the field of sport.

AGGIS provided a theoretical foundation and empirical evidence for a tool for benchmarking governance standards in international sports federations. 

The work was continued in the following years by Play the Game/Danish Institute for Sports Studies and KU Leuven where Dr. Arnout Geeraert from KU Leuven developed the tool by adjusting the indicators and adding a grading system for each indicator.

In 2015, Arnout Geeraert authored the first ‘Sports Governance Observer’ study which was a comprehensive and independent analysis of international sports governance in 35 international Olympic federations.

Over the following years, Arnout Geeraert developed the SGO tool further. The original idea of grading the degree of adherence to a governance principle was exchanged in favour of a dichotomous system with yes and no indicators. The new tool builds on 57 principles of good government measured through 309 indicators.

In 2018, Arnout Geeraert authored the 'Sports Governance Observer 2018' that analysed the state of governance in five international sports federations: the International Football Federation (FIFA), , the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), the International Swimming Federation (FINA), the International Handball Federation (IHF) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

In 2019, Jens Alm authored the 'Sports Governance Observer 2019' that analysed the state of governance in six international sports federations: the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), the International Ski Federation (FIS), the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), the International Biathlon Union (IBU), and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Use of cookies

The website www.playthegame.org uses cookies to provide a user-friendly and relevant website. Cookies provide information about how the website is being used or support special functions such as Twitter feeds. 


By continuing to use this site, you consent to the use of cookies. You can find out more about our use of cookies and personal data in our privacy policy.